Elk NetworkVolunteers Sought to Help Find Elk Calves in Wisconsin

General | May 13, 2022

Live in Wisconsin or the Great Lakes area? Love elk? Want to help biologists find newborn elk calves just after they hit the ground? Then the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) needs your help.

As part of a multi-year DNR research effort stretching into 2024, the state wildlife agency will host calf searches in the Clam Lake area between May 21 and June 22, 2022. It needs a dozen to 15 volunteers per outing. The goal is to find and place collars on the baby elk so scientists can monitor movement, survival and the causes of mortality.

“When a cow has been suspected to have dropped a calf, we use the volunteers to sweep the area looking for a newborn calf elk. DNR staff then collect data, age, GPS collar and ear tag the calf. The group then backs out and lets the calf reunite with the cow. DNR staff then track that calf as its life progresses,” Josh Spiegel, DNR wildlife biologist, told the Sawyer County Record. “This is a great and fun opportunity for volunteers. At the same time, it can be rather rigorous walking through various habitat types, including timber sales, thick brush, wet ground, etc.”

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chronicled such an elk calf search near Clam Lake in a short 2018 film.

Spiegel said volunteers need to be in good shape, wear sturdy boots and good outdoor clothing, and have the ability to make their way across rough terrain with thick vegetation. He also added, “No bug spray is also important.”

For more information, including scheduling an opportunity to search for calves, call 715-634-7464 or send an email to sarah.looman@wisconsin.gov.

(Photo credit:  Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)